Nejra Bajric is a parent with a 2nd grade son at Lincoln Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois. His son was incredibly excited to show off his Spider-Man costume at the class halloween party, however, the school had a different idea. Lincoln along with other elementary schools have ceased all Halloween traditions.
That means no costumes, candy, or parties during the school day. Nejra Bajric describedher son's reaction, "There were some tears. Every time I bring it up, he says, 'That's the worst; I'm just going to wear mine.'" Many parents are not happy about the school's decision to stop all Halloween celebrations.
The parents were not let in on the decision making process, so they are unsure why this is even happening. Michelle Cooney, the Lincoln principal, claims that the decision is to promote equity and inclusiveness for those who don't celebrate the holiday. It is safe to say that the school system needs to be retaught what equity means.
Cooney sent out a statement on the school's decision in an email saying, "As part of our school and district-wide commitment to equity, we are focused on building community and creating inclusive, welcoming environments for all. While we recognize that Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, it is not a holiday that is celebrated by all members of our school community and for various reasons. There are also inequities in how we have traditionally observed the holiday as part of our school day. Our goal at Lincoln is to provide space and opportunities for all students to be part of the community - not to create an environment that may feel exclusive or unwelcoming to any child."
Bajric is a Bosnian and Muslim immigrant refugee family, and for them, Halloween was "one of the greatest things." Nejric complained, "Halloween is a cultural American holiday, and it's being canceled because of religious groups."
For Bajric, Halloween is very special. Since her family worked a lot, her only way to celebrate the holiday was at school. She felt it was a "way to assimilate." Bajric said, "I didn't get to celebrate other holidays. Halloween was my way of being like the other kids. Other students from other countries, they get to feel like the other kids and participate in a cultural holiday." Bajric believes that while being sensitive to other's customs is important, the decision is only going to hurt kids who need the opportunity to celebrate at school.
The school gave the parents a warning a year in advance that they would not be celebrating Halloween in school. Some parents felt surprised by the decision. While most parents think the administration is good overall, they believe they are making the wrong decision here.
The main issue for many parents is that the decision was made without them. They feel that if they had been asked, they all could have worked together to figure out a solution that would include the students that don't celebrate Halloween. "I don't think that's a good reason, that's not a way society works. If one kid is offended, we want to try to include that kid and come with solutions, but to say we need to change our behavior in a significant way over a Halloween celebration, it's hard to take."
This is clearly an issue where people have good intentions but they don't know what they are doing. Inclusivity and equity are great things, but achieving them is not as simple as taking away things from others. Either way, who doesn't celebrate the non-secular holiday of Halloween anyway?